Daniel – a man of excellent spirit

(Excerpt from Of Hearts and Minds by Dennis Gillett)

It seems to me that the inspiration of Daniel’s life lay in the fact that he was essentially a man of high purpose. From the very beginning of his captive life in Babylon

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8)

The Drunkard’s Progress, a lithograph by Nathaniel Currier supporting the temperance movement (January 1846)

Let us make no mistake here. This is not the call for vegetarianism and teetotalism. Be this if you like, but do not base it on Daniel 1:8. To this Hebrew young man, the king’s dainties were defiling in the real sense. He purposed to remain faithful to the God of his fathers. God’s law contained this restriction:

“It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood” (Leviticus 3:17).

Hebrews were not called upon to be teetotallers, but in some way we must conclude that the king’s wine also had defiling influences for Daniel, perhaps because it had been offered to idols.

Let us mark the real significance of this. Purpose is the force which underlies all progress. Immediately Daniel found himself in the place of peril he purposed in his heart. This is the real issue. There are thousands of people who drift into the ways of evil simply because they never made a definite and positive committal of themselves to some fixed direction. Their hearts were never settled. Remember how the New Testament describes this condition – Peter speaks of those who were “mists driven by a storm”, and Paul of those who were blown about by “every wind of doctrine”. The picture is there – a raw and gusty day and some piece of material torn, twisted, scooped up by the wind and tossed to and fro without an anchor.

The importance of the principle is noticed in the fact that right at the beginning Daniel made his committal. Sometimes to delay in the first consciousness of perilous surroundings – to procrastinate when we ought to resolve – opens more the door to compromise later on. Later on Daniel had to face the king’s lions – he did it calmly and bravely. Perhaps he would never have faced the lions so well if at first he had not refused the king’s dainties. Momentous issues are sometimes determined on what at first may seem trifling causes; large doors sometimes turn on very small hinges.

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 The book “Of Hearts and Minds” examines fifteen different Bible characters and seeks to provide an insight into the hearts and minds of these men and women who move through the word of God in such a fascinating way.

Author(s): Dennis Gillett

Binding: Paperback – ISBN: 9780851893990

 Pages: 192
 Publisher: The Christadelphian

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